Rated: R. Drama.
Fandom: Gunslinger Girl.
Summary: There are some organisations that are more powerful than the Agency. There are some evils that will never die.
Warning: Contains violence and coarse language.
Disclaimer: Gunslinger Girl is the creation of Yu Aida. No profit is intended in the writing of this fanfic. The Italian government denies using cyborg children to assassinate enemies of the state.
Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Archiving is welcome, but try and contact me first. My thanks to Nachtsider for his beta work.
DEATH IN SCAMPIA
The mark was a shrunken parody of a human being, his once-powerful body eaten away from the inside. Plugged into tubes and monitors and stinking of faecal matter, this man who controlled a criminal empire worth billions was dying in a squalid tenement on the outskirts of Naples. Triela would preempt the inevitable by only a few months.
She had killed three people getting to this room. The twelve year-old lookout with an M9 in his waistband. A sentry who'd emptied his Kalashnikov through the door the moment Triela tested the handle. The old veteran with his basket of hand grenades.
The mark stared at her with eyes like bloodshot marbles and croaked: "So you're the Angel of Death, huh? Well fuck you."
Once his hand had been felt all over the world; in fashion boutiques in Sydney and car dealerships in Moscow, in brothels in Hamburg and crack houses in Los Angeles. In rusting barrels of toxic waste washed up on the shores of Somalia. If Mario Bossi was to be believed, this man had caused Triela to be plucked from the streets of Tunisia so she could be raped and tortured in a warehouse in Amsterdam for the gratification of strangers.
Perhaps she was truly a spirit of vengeance, called into being by the agonised cries of those he had killed, and would continue to kill for decades after his death. As Triela put her gun to his head, she tried to feel a sense of justice, outrage, divine retribution.
She squeezed the trigger and felt nothing at all.
Rico was waiting outside the steel gate that had once barred the rear entrance. She held a pair of bolt cutters almost as big as she was, their blades matted with blood and hair. Triela took her by the hand and they walked casually down the stairwell, arriving at the street just as the Mercedes Vito pulled up, summoned by the text message Triela had sent three minutes ago. The side door slid open; Hilshire hauled them inside and they were off.
It wasn't quick enough. The unfamiliar van had been spotted by the omnipresent sentinels, and as they raced down the rubbish-strewn boulevards they found themselves blocked. Motorcycles, mopeds and SUV's driven by boys not old enough to shave, high on methamphetamines and eager to challenge the rumoured supersoldiers of Italy's shadow divisions. With sweaters bulging over bulletproof vests, they brandished Uzis and Berettas and brand-new assault rifles from Czechoslovakia, shouting obscenities and lines by Quentin Tarantino. They revved their engines and stomped on the brakes, filling the air with the stench of burnt rubber and exhaust fumes. Here were the gunslingers of the Camorra clans, cheap and expendable and inexhaustible in supply. Any other time they would have been an object of derision to the cutting-edge killers of the Agency. Now the girls could sense their handlers' fear and the knowledge made them taut like a mainspring, ready to erupt into a murderous frenzy that would not stop until everyone was brought down in a hail of bullets.
"Don't shoot! Don't shoot! For God's sake, nobody shoot!"
"RPG! That kid's got a fucking rocket launcher!"
"We can't stay in this van, Jean! It's a deathtrap!"
"GIS are on their way. Stay calm and stay inside! Don't react to any provocation!"
A lump of concrete smashed the glass by Rico's face; her hands clenched and a 40mm projectile hurtled into a distant window, filling an apartment with smoke.
"Holy shit! Was that tear gas or frag?!"
"Who gives a damn? They're all animals! We've got to get the hell out of here!"
"Bloody Scampia! I always knew I was going to buy it in this dump!"
"See Naples and die. What are you complaining about?"
From the monstrous concrete ziggurats poured the mothers and girlfriends of the camorristi, some of them clan members themselves. They hurled garbage and abuse at the Agency van, each face a contorted mask of rage, letting fly their hatred of a government whose indifference and corruption they blamed for all their problems.
"Is this the way the world ends?" asked Beatrice, her voice a discomfiting serenity amongst the thinly-veiled hysteria.
Triela gripped the handle of the sliding door, common sense struggling against her conditioning. They should be running for the nearest cover, not stuck inside an unarmoured vehicle with no room to use their weapons. The adults had stuffed things up as usual...
She felt a hand on her shoulder, and Hilshire's voice in her ear. "Hold it."
A black Jeep Wrangler was pushing its way through the crowd, coming to a halt a few metres in front of them. Silence fell over the onlookers like drifting dust.
"Everybody wait here," said Jean tersely. "You too, Rico."
Jean got out of the van and walked over to the SUV, leaning down to the passenger side window. He spoke quietly, and not for long. Triela did not know if threats or bargains were being made; all her attention was elsewhere, her enhanced senses trying to take in every angle at once.
A bald, stocky man wearing designer sunglasses and counterfeit athletic gear stepped out of the Wrangler. He shook hands with Jean, then turned and made a single, sweeping gesture. Youths who minutes before had been screaming for their blood placidly moved their vehicles aside, clearing the street ahead. More than anything else this act showed the pointlessness of the Agency's latest kill. Bosses die or go to prison, but the power of the Camorra went on. There was no profit in starting a vendetta with the intelligence services. An ambitious up-and-comer would step into the shoes of the man they had assassinated, and business would go on as before.
Jean climbed back into the van and hissed, "Go, go, for fuck sake go!"
Bernardo shoved the gearstick into first and the Vito shot forward, camorrista mopeds flanking them in a protective cordon as they sped past burning trash bins and broken shop windows. Masked figures were syphoning petrol into beer bottles, the wail of police sirens a growing chorus in the background. Residents showing solidarity with the clans through acts of wanton destruction, to ward off suspicion that they had betrayed the location of their boss.
A fifteen year-old girl in a fluorescent yellow jumpsuit gunned her Vespa alongside the van and shouted at Triela: "Hey Miss Terminator, take me with you! I've got iron, I've killed people, I'm not afraid of anything! Come on, take me away from this rathole! I want to be a badass sicari like you!"
Jean slammed open his door and the moped flipped, its rider tumbling across the tarmac with limbs flailing; the casual atrocity of a soldier frustrated by a hopeless war. The other youths braked and in seconds they were out of sight around the corner.
"Well she's certainly qualified to join the Agency now," said Bernardo. There was an ugly eruption of laughter from the handlers, a sudden release of tension that trailed off into a guilty silence.
That was the last time anyone spoke except for Beatrice. As a convoy of dumpster trucks rumbled past on the road to the landing strip, she sniffed the air and listed the toxins they were smuggling, a hellish nursery rhyme from a dimly-glimpsed future.